The guy who was supposed to go check on the calf at first light hadn't gone, so I was worried about it as we paddled several miles across the lake to it's location.
It turned out to be a small male calf, I estimate he was about 1 year old and weighed ~40-50kg (we didn't have a scale). He had fishing net tightly wrapped around his right flipper and neck, but luckily it hadn't cut into him and he was in good shape.
After getting the calf on board, I took standardized measurements including lengths and girths at various locations. These can be used to compare with other manatees from other places to give us baseline information for the species. This was the first time I used my new GoPro helmet cam to video manatee work (that's the large thing strapped to my head), so now I have high definition video of the entire rescue. This will be very useful for both training and educational purposes.
I also collected hair samples, which I'll analyze back in the lab in Florida to determine the types of food this manatee is eating. The hairs on a manatee are very fine and hard to transfer from the tweezers to the tiny storage vials, especially in a rocking boat!
I also took the manatee's body temperature, a genetics sample, and a complete set of photos to document all sides of the little guy. These are the first samples to be collected from any manatee from this region, so they will be important to compare from the other manatees I've previously sampled from the Senegal River, to learn more about this population.
The calf had a distinct scar on his tail, plus several notches on the tail margin, which could help identify him if he's ever seen again in the future. Usually calves don't have many markings, so this was lucky for us. The tiny orange marks on his side were made by a grease pencil to mark the location of his umbilicus so I could take measurements from his dorsal side. These markings will wash off after a couple days.